BLUE WINDOW | Food Travels in the Alps | La Pôchouse Suisse (freshwater fish stew)

La Pôchouse Suisse SWITZERLAND freshwater fish stew


A solitary cormorant stands on a rock surveying the shimmering depths of Lake Geneva. With a gentle rise it lifts into the wispy whiteness of the sky, dives into the water, emerging moments later, triumphant.

The fish of this Alpine lake are reknown, and not only to long legged predators that stand in anticipation.

Behind the lake countless rows of vines rise into the hills.

Fish and wine.


That’s one over the bird!

Landlocked Switzerland has freshwater fish dishes unrivalled across Europe. Restaurant menus reflect this reality.

A bondelle terrine, baked salmon trout, carp soup, fried perch fillets, mousse made with char, quenelles of pike, smoked fillets of laveret, vendace roe on toast, whole char in a court bouillon and, arguably, the most delicious fish stew ever devised – La Pôchouse, as popular in the Swiss cantons as it is in Burgundy where it originated.

This Burgundian feast is made with a white wine bouillabaisse. In the cantons of Geneva, Vaud and the Valais / Wallis it is made with a vegetable white wine stock.

1.5 kg eel, perch, pike and trout fillets
750 g root vegetables (carrot, celeriac, kohlrabi, parsley, parsnip, salsify, turnip)
500 ml dry white wine
500 ml water
300 g tomatoes, pulped
150 g smoked bacon, diced
125 g onions, chopped
65 g butter
50 g wholemeal wheat flour
50 g shallots, chopped
45 ml olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
15 g tomato purée
10 g parsley
1 bay leaf
1 tsp chervil
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp saffron
1 tsp thyme
Salt, pinch
Pepper, pinch
Parsley, for garnish

Sauté onions and shallots in one tablespoon of the butter melted with the oil, stir in tomatoes and instead of fish bones add root vegetables, herbs and water. Simmer for 45 minutes. Strain.

In a large deep pot, make a roux with the butter, flour and two tablespoons of the wine.

Soak the saffron in a tablespoon of the wine.

Sauté the garlic in remaining butter, followed by the bacon. Add the paprika, tomato pureé, and the remaining wine. Stir into the roux. Add the saffron wine, and bring to a gentle simmer.

Poach the eel and trout first, followed by the pike eight minutes later, then perch after another eight minutes, finish in four minutes for a total of 20 minutes cooking time.

Serve in hot bowls, garnish with parsley.